Early modern England had some creative property taxes: window, chimney, brick, and wallpaper tax. Early modern England also had some creative methods of tax avoidance: sealed windows, stolen chimneys, larger bricks, and plainer wallpaper.
The largest national park in the European Union is in South America.
Who rules the cats of England? Since at least the 1920s, 10 Downing Street has had an official cat: the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office.
The glacier Okjökull in Iceland died in 2014.
Princess Anne and Prince Ludwig of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg liked flying and spying, respectively. Both disappeared under mysterious and separate circumstances.
King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden really wanted a big ship so he could dominate the Baltic. The Vasa was one of the most heavily armed ships in the world when it launched in 1628. But the same day it launched, it sank.
Around five million years ago, the Strait of Gibraltar closed and the Mediterranean dried up. When it reopened, the sea refilled in less than two years.
Leave it to the Norwegians and Swedes to take a way to call cattle in high mountain pastures and turn it into a genre of music.
Within the witch panic of Medieval Europe was a strange subset of trials that accused people of being both witches and werewolves.
Sergio Leone famously filmed Westerns in Italy and Spain, creating the genre known as the Spaghetti Western. But Soviet bloc countries had their own version too: the Red Westerns.
In 1959, a block of glacier ice was carried – without refrigeration – from the Arctic Circle, through Europe, across the Sahara, and all the way to the Equator. It was perhaps the greatest publicity stunt in history.
If you wanted to build a castle in medieval England, you needed permission from the king. They’re supposed to be for the defence of the realm, but sometimes you just want to fake out the neighbours.
Deep in the vaults of the Bank of England are banknotes, legal tender, for 100 million pounds each. These may be the most valuable banknotes in the world.
The eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, also killed the famous author of one of the earliest encyclopedias.
Underneath many large cities lie buried and lost rivers. Sometimes, they return to the surface world.